As I read the words I lie to myself all the time…Bam!...someone shoves me hard to the left, and in reward, I get a face full of chest…hard, masculine chest. In slow motion, I scream as my cup crushes between me and the aforementioned pectoral muscles. The caramel flavored coffee spills down the front of Tucker Fallon—all-star quarterback, last year’s homecoming king, and boy of my dreams. Familial social graces all having been bestowed upon my sister, I freeze. No way to spin this in my favor anyway.
In hindsight, I know I could have reacted in a million different ways, but in this moment, no viable options come to me. So, by the sheer power of instinct, my lightning fast reactions, and good sopping skills, I knee-drop right in front of him and use my jacket—in a very regrettable up and down motion—to scrub the coffee from his khakis. My skin burns hotter with each swipe against his pants, but I can’t stop. Nothing in the world is more important to me in this minute than undoing what I’ve done.
I don’t look up at Tucker to see what is probably terror on his face. There is a stain spreading across the front of him and I’ve turned into a jackhammer of super-scrubbing power. In the meantime, my heart threatens to beat out of my rib cage and my arm keeps pumping. Up and down. Up and down.
The laughter comes in quiet spurts at first, and I ignore it until it’s a symphony of sound. I lurch my head around. Here I am face to zipper with Tucker Fallon, vigorously rubbing my fleece jacket over his crotch, humiliating myself on levels it will take an act of God to bounce back from, and it seems the entire student body has crowded into the hallway to watch. And laugh.
Shame bubbles out of me in a sob, but I keep jerking my jacket over the spot where my coffee is soaking into his pants. In his defense, he tries to push me away once, until a new round of catcalls sounds and he drops his hands.
Thankfully, or maybe not, KC sees fit to amble past on his way to class. He stoops to wrap his fingers around my arm and lift me from my knees. “What the hell are you doing, Mel?”
“I spilled my coffee.” I lean in to whisper the words, as if by keeping my voice quiet it will erase this moment from the annals of history.
“And you thought giving Tuck a boner would make that right?” I hear his disbelief, see the question in his eyes, but my brain is on lock-down. Sweat rolls down my back, and I take another glance around—all these people laughing, not bothering to disguise it... I can’t think of a single thing to do or say to make them stop, to shut everyone up. Instead, I race to the bathroom and hide until the bell rings. Since I can’t just walk out and go home to bury my shame under my pillow until the good Lord sees fit to save me, I have no choice but to dry my eyes and get on with the day. I can do this. I can face it.